In this second installment of Hawker Tales at the Malaysian Food Street we go Penang-crazy, featuring one of the oldest lor mee businesses, a husband-and-wife lor bak team, a char koay teow entrepreneur who started his business at 16, and a chendol made lovingly from scratch. Our four-man team raided these stalls to get a first-hand taste of the delicious morsel to bring you our take on each dish
Penang Hai Beng Hainan Lor Mee
Mr Cheah It Kheng’s younger sister, Ms Cheah Yit Cheng, also in the family business
With a history dating back to 1957, store owner Cheah It Kheang knows the business of lor mee inside out. Introduced to the operations of running a lor mee stall at the tender age of nine, It Kheang has since graduated from cleaning duties to taking the reins of the kitchen. The stall has come a long way, from a street stall to a coffee shop that seats 180 customers. The secret to their success? The thick gravy which takes 11 painstaking hours to cook.
Our take: Do not judge a bowl of noodles by how it looks. This may not be the prettiest (or most colourful) bowl of noodles you have seen, but its taste makes up for what it lacks in the looks department. The thick flat yellow noodles were drenched in starchy gravy made from the owner’s secret recipe. The ngo hiang, fish cake and boiled egg were nicely portioned to make sure that we don’t end up burping from overeating. Oh, we also slurped the bowl clean of the gooey gravy.
Penang Ah Long Lor Bak
Owner Mr Tan Kek Long and his wife, Mdm Thor Ah Nya
What sets this stall apart from all other lor bak stores from Penang is the wide selection available; they offer vegetable options like yam and radish on top of the traditional marinated minced pork version. The loh (dip) made with special secret spices gives this Lor Bak the additional winning edge. Owned and managed by Mr Tan Kek Long and his wife, the original Penang stall was set up by Mr Tan’s father in the 1960s. Back home, they can sell up to 1,000 rolls of lor bak a day.
Our take: This dish is perfect for groups. Lor Bak is best enjoyed with accompaniments such as Taiwan sausages, deep-fried prawn crackers or “love-it-or-hate-it” century eggs. It might look a little overwhelming at first if you go for the full works but each item is cut up into bite-sized pieces so sharing is a breeze. Don’t forget the sauce! The thick and delicious pork broth sauce is what puts the lor in lor bak. The crispy paper-thin soybean sheet helps to keep the sauce on the roll so each bite of the savoury minced pork has a little kick from the tangy lor.
Penang Lim Brothers’ Char Koay Teow
(From left) Mr Lim Lak Tee and elder brother Mr Lim Chye Lin
While many of us were probably still studying or working part time when we were 16, Mr Lim Chye Tin started his own char koay teow stall. Being the enterprising youth that he was, he enlisted the help of brother Lim Lak Tee. Together, they swept Penang by storm and won over many fans with their fragrant fried rice noodles. Unlike its Singaporean counterpart, Penang char koay teow is saltier and lighter in colour. The fresh ingredients used – prawn, clam, and lap cheong (Chinese sausage) – is the icing on the cake.
Our take: For those looking at their waistlines, you should give this a miss. This lightly charred ‘dry’ char koay teow with a slight taste of chilli – quite unlike the ‘wet’ version commonly found in Singapore – will give you a taste of Penang, right here in Singapore. And like most Penang food, it is yummylicious! Fresh, peeled prawns, lap cheong (Chinese sausages) and eggs are cooked just right, adding to the aroma and taste. The portions are just enough to whet your appetite but that’s a good thing, because you’ll probably wipe out whatever’s on the plate – we did!
Mdm Loh Swee Gain and granddaughter Lee Bee Keow
Mdm Loh Swee Gain’s Penang chendol recipe is originally from her husband. Now, she and her grand-daughter run a dessert stall at the New World Park food court in Penang. Sticking to the truly authentic and organic recipe, Mdm Loh makes everything by hand, including the green Chendol jelly. The process involves boiling green bean powder, alkaline water, pandan leaf and green colouring and passing the soft dough through a sieve to achieve the long slim jelly.
Our take: We’ve all tried chendol before. Head down to the nearest hawker centre or food court and chances are the desert stall will be selling it. But think about the best chendol you’ve ever tasted, and now, think about it again – only thrice as nice. That’s how we feel about the chendol from Mdm Loh’s stall. They are generous with the helpings of coconut milk and gula merah, and you can really tell the difference with their home-made chendol jelly. The result? Every bite is pure, smooth, sweet heaven, just the way it should be!
Don’t forget to make a date with the Malaysian Food Street right here at Resorts World Sentosa! For more information, take a look at our stall opening hours here.
For part 1 of Hawker Tales, go here.